Sony’s new rumblepack: Worth the price?

  • Opinion – We have now had a few days with Sony’s new Playstation 3 controller, but are uncertain whether its new feature set justifies its high price tag. Your take?

    I always believed that the original Sixaxis controller was one of the key weaknesses of the Playstation 3. And many of us always believed that Sony’s original explanation that the vibrating feature would interfere with the controller’s motion sensing ability may have just been a cheap excuse. Of course there was Immersion’s patent infringement suit, which Sony settled for a hefty sum and enabled the company to bring the feature back to the PS3.

    Now I am sitting here with my $58.70 ($54.99 plus sales tax) controller and I am wondering if Sony should not have scrapped the idea of the PS3 controller as a whole. These two electromagnets in this device (which are the reason that the Dualshock 3 controller is significantly heavier) add the rumble effect we experienced in Dualshock and Dualshock 2, but compared to its rivals, it doesn’t feel as a few years ago. Nintendo is clearly ahead in this game and Microsoft has the vibration feature as well.

    To be fair, there is a certain value in this controller if you are into first person shooters – the simplicity of the vibration feature fades in your mind as you go along and there is a true additional feature. In other games, such as GT5 Prologue, F1 Grand Prix or Warhawk, it is a matter of personal taste if the controller vibrates or not, but the Dualshock 3 device certainly isn’t convincing enough to justify the $58.70 expense in my opinion. If you are in doubt, don’t bother upgrading to this controller and simply buy it when you need another controller or when you need to replace a broken controller anyway.

    The thought of a replacement, by the way, brings up another issue. I have seen review sites mentioning that the battery in the Dualshock 3 controller cannot be replaced, which is actually false. The battery (whose running time in the rumble pack controller is actually a bit shorter than in the regular controller) is removable and technically replaceable. The question, however, is if you really want to do that: Opening the device is simple, but putting it back together is a pain in the you know what.

    Overall, I am sure that Sony’s $122.2 million settlement was necessary and tactile feedback is necessary because of competitive pressure. I am just not sure whether the additional $30 million investment made sense and whether the rumblepack alone is enough in today’s console world.

    What is your take? Let us know by writing a comment below.